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Acta Cardiol Sin. 2017 Nov;33(6):664-669. doi: 10.6515/ACS20170621A.

Is a Three-Dimensional Printing Model Better Than a Traditional Cardiac Model for Medical Education? A Pilot Randomized Controlled Study.

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Department of Cardiology, Zhengzhou University People's Hospital (Henan Provincial People's Hospital), Zhengzhou, Henan 450003, China.



Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a newly-emerged technology converting a series of two-dimensional images to a touchable 3D model, but no studies have investigated whether or not a 3D printing model is better than a traditional cardiac model for medical education.


A 3D printing cardiac model was generated using multi-slice computed tomography datasets. Thirty-four medical students were randomized to either the 3D Printing Group taught with the aid of a 3D printing cardiac model or the Traditional Model Group with a commonly used plastic cardiac model. Questionnaires with 10 medical questions and 3 evaluative questions were filled in by the students.


A 3D printing cardiac model was successfully generated. Students in the 3D Printing Group were slightly quicker to answer all questions when compared with the Traditional Model Group (224.53 ± 44.13 s vs. 238.71 ± 68.46 s, p = 0.09), but the total score was not significantly different (6.24 ± 1.30 vs. 7.18 ± 1.70, p = 0.12). Neither the students'satisfaction (p = 0.48) nor their understanding of cardiac structures (p = 0.24) was significantly different between two groups. More students in the 3D Printing Group believed that they had understood at least 90% of teaching content (6 vs. 1). Both groups had 12 (70.6%) students who preferred a 3D printing model for medical education.


A 3D printing model was not significantly superior to a traditional model in teaching cardiac diseases in our pilot randomized controlled study, yet more studies may be conducted to validate the real effect of 3D printing on medical education.


Medical education; Structural heart disease; Three-dimensional printing; Traditional cardiac model

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